A few weeks ago I made the mistake of saying “yes” to the helpful, personable lady on the phone. She was from Telstra, and she was calling to help. The most recent consequence of that was the total loss of Internet for a couple of hours, solved only by the further loss of 45 minutes on the phone. And that’s only the most recent.

Before I start, let me confess. A couple of years ago someone somewhere somehow got ahold of one of my credit card numbers. The first I knew was when my balance seemed low. I spotted a purchase from Vodafone. I am not, and never have been, a customer of Vodafone. So I rang up Vodafone and tried to find out why they’d charged my card. All I could get was a curt “Fill in the online form”.

So I put out feelers to my fellow tech writers, got a PR contact for Vodafone and sent an email. Within a couple of hours, I had a phone call from Vodafone’s “Executive Resolution Team”, and matters were well on the way to being fixed. It was like flying somewhere in First Class.

And I resolved never to pull strings again unless something truly vital was on the line. I like to see myself as an experienced and knowledgeable consumer, sharing my experiences with readers. I can’t do that with special treatment.

So when I had a problem with Telstra, it was purely as a customer, and I went through it as any customer would.

Fine Telstra service (unironically)

I’ve been an @Telstra customer for 38 years. I’m not a fussy customer, and it has mostly been good. There was that time a couple of years ago when my Internet disappeared. It turned out that someone had cut the connection to my house … on the inside of the service pole up the street. How odd is that?

Yes, Telstra costs more than the competition, but better mobile coverage and this and that and general inertia has kept me from exploring options.

(As always, is the competition any better? How about that weird additional charge by Optus earlier this year on my pre-paid backup phone?)

Anyway, every so often Telstra rings up to make sure I’m happy with my service. That’s why the helpful, personable lady from Telstra rang me three weeks ago.

We rejigged my broadband bundle. I was on an unlimited plan (data-wise that is; my anaemic speed has been the same lousy 6Mbps for a dozen years). It turns out that I rarely go much above 100GB per month. We changed that, making a $29 per month saving. Now that was welcome.

My main mobile is post-paid on the same monthly bill. All I wanted was more data. It turns out that by changing my mobile plan from $50 to $59, I could have ten times the data. I went from 2.5GB to 25GB per month.

The overall result: a more useful service for $20 a month less. Nice.

Then comes the letter


But nine days later I got a letter (on paper, in the mail). “My order,” it called itself, “On a new kind of network”. It explained that my phone was now on the “Business Casual Mobile Plan S” at $49 per month. Hurrah! Cheaper than I thought!